ASH WEDNESDAY
March 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 48

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VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER Series         INTRODUCTION

    In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we continue to detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today we cover the time of the second half of the twelfth century and another schism within the Church where four antipopes ruled, placed on the throne by the thorn in the side of the Church - the German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. His support by the Gibellines forced many of the Popes to take up residence and the curia outside of Rome, guarded by those loyal to the Papacy - the Guelphs. During this time there were strong Popes and weak ones including the first and only English Pope which indirectly caused the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket for his loyalty to the British Sovereign Pontiff over the Sovereign King Henry II of England.

    We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.

    With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest remembrance Christ gave to His Church.


Installment 39: The Third, Fourth and Fifth Crusades
        With the death of Pope Urban III on October 20, 1187, the College of Cardinals quickly met at Ferrara where they realized the election of Urban had been a disaster and chose the stable Cardinal Henry of Albano to lead the Church, but he declined and they were forced to select an alternate - the Papal Chancellor Cardinal Albert de Mora. As it turned out it was a very wise decision for though he was the Supreme Pontiff for less than three months, probably no pontiff in the history of the Popes accomplished more in the shortest time than the man who took the name Pope Gregory VIII. In this short span this 173rd successor of Peter was able to return stability to the papacy, reconcile with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II Barbarossa and convince the German king to lead the Third Crusade in the aftermath of the disaster of Jerusalem. While his legacy is for launching the Third Crusade, he was first and foremost a peacemaker whose philosophy was that the only way to defeat the Islam threat was through a unified Christian world. Thus he sought reconciliation and peace with all European nations and was hailed by many as the man who could deal with Frederick with honey rather than vinegar. It was the beginning of restoring the Holy See to prominence that would come into focus in the ensuing centuries. His short tenure marked a definite end to the dark ages and memories of Popes whose agenda was not in accord with God's will. The entire Christian world rallied behind him and mourned greatly when he unexpectedly passed away on December 11, 1187 in Pisa, Italy.

        It was left to Gregory's successor Pope Clement III who was elected on December 20, 1187. Born in Rome, he succeeded in bringing peace to Rome after sixty years of the Popes being forced to stay clear of Rome. He encouraged the Third Crusade inspired by Gregory VIII and recruited the new English king Richard the Lion-Hearted of England to fight side by side with his former enemy - France's King Philip under Barbarossa's leadership which failed badly, but Richard would stand out as a valiant, brave warrior and become legendary. To fund the Crusade Clement imposed taxes on every country and monastery. Human nature and greed mandated that this wouldn't go smoothly and it didn't. Possibly this resistance and resentment contributed to the crusaders not being as well-prepared as they needed to be against the superior Saracen forces. Despite this setback, Clement was well loved because, though Clement chronically suffered from a weak heart, God gave him a larger heart that enveloped the whole world and endeared him to Christians everywhere. Even where there were disputes and battles, he was respected and revered by all. Though he outlasted his predecessor's short papacy, his own three and a half year pontificate was not nearly long enough for the people of God. He died in late March of 1191.

        His successor was one of the oldest Sovereign Pontiffs to ever be elected. The Sacred Conclave chose another Roman, this time the 85 year-old Cardinal Giacinto Bobo as an "interim Pope." He was elected the 175th in the line of Peter on April 14, 1191, taking the name Pope Celestine III in honor of his mentor who elevated him to the cardinalate - Pope Celestine II. While the College had chosen him expecting he would die within a few months, allowing them time to choose another, he surprised them all by living until he was 94. Unfortunately his lack of military acumen hampered him greatly in his problems with King Henry IV who succeeded Barbarossa, but he made up for this lack by outlasting the German/Sicilian emperor, allowing patience and moderation to dictate the course of history. His tactics proved successful as those who stood in his way passed away before him, allowing him to end his papacy in peace. Celestine III also reinforced and realigned the papal coffers and accounting system, and approved the Order of the Tuetonic Knights whose principal duty was to defend the pilgrims in the Holy Land. Despite the failures of the Third Crusade, he began recruiting for the Fourth Crusade which would be fulfilled by his successor just after the turn of the century. Few Pontiffs were able to dictate to the Emperor like this wise old man who, while not gifted with military smarts, fulfilled Saint Paul's words to be "as guileless as a dove, and cunning as a serpent." He talked Henry into organizing the Fourth Crusade in exchange for personally baptizing the Emperor's new-born son Frederick. Assured of his support, Celestine dispatched missionaries throughout Europe to preach the Crusade. He also held Henry at bay by forcing him to back out of the papal territories he had assumed. When Henry hinted at measures that could throw the Church back into lay investiture, Celestine cleverly skirted the issue for he knew Hnery was having problems of his own back in Germany as well as Sicily where the citizens and dukes were getting frustrated with a hereditary monarchy. On January 8, 1198 at the age of 94 Celestine died with his trusted camerlingo by his side Cardinal Cencio Savelli who would become Pope 18 years later as Pope Honorius III.

        But first it would be left to Pope Innocent III to take the Church into the 13th Century. That was Cardinal Lotario. While Celestine was the oldest, Innocent was one of the youngest, assuming the throne on January 8th at the age of only 38. His pontificate lasted eighteen years and through two Crusades. His talents and total loyalty to God as Vicar of Christ were above reproach. His pontificate bore great fruit and it was during his papacy that the Dominicans and Franciscans came into being for it was Innocent who approved both Saint Dominic's efforts and athe worthy mission of the humble friar from Assisi Saint Francis. But before that he was charged to bring the Church into the new century, establishing the Pope as master of Rome which didn't always sit well with the nobles. Though it took him a full decade to accomplish this, it set a trend throughout all of Europe that bode well for the Church for Innocent was intent on recovering lost papal territories that had been confiscated by the German kings. This played well with many of the Roman families who considered the Emperor a threat both to Rome and his growing influence in Sicily. Yet the rapport between the dying Henry and Innocent was not lost on his widow Constance, who, seeing the handwriting on the wall, made the unprecedented request for Innocent to tutor and care for the young Frederick. In exchange she would guarantee protection for the Pope in his battles as he launched an all out campaign to recover lost Papal States.

        While Innocent III was a good Supreme Pontiff, he erred greatly in overestimating the strength of Europe's forces in the Crusades. The Muslims had broken the truce and not having Richard or any of the other influential regal leaders, this crusade met with much in-fighting and rebellion and by 1204 the leaders had abandoned their ideals and many were excommunicated in the ill-fated Fourth Crusade. Eight years after ascending the throne, his zeal overtook him and he encouraged the youth to take up arms for Christ in what would become known as the fateful "Children's Crusade." So full of zeal were the youth of France and Germany that 50,000 youths set out in 1212 in the Fifth Crusade to win back Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the infidels through their piety, humility and innocence. Innocent had misinterpreted prophecies that the land would be won back by the "pure of heart" as children. Falsely thinking that the Saracens would be moved to repentance when the innocent youth descended on the Holy Land, he sent thousands into battle, ill-equipped to deal with combat or the elements. The results were catastrophic. When word reached Innocent he was devastated and would take this sorrow to his grave.

Next Wednesday: Installment Forty-one: The beginning of Century of the Saints.
         

March 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 48
2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER Series

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